In another turn of events in the fight for Net Neutrality – Frontier Communications claims that Senate Bill 822 will give companies like Netflix and Google Free Internet access and is urging its employees to write to Governor Brown and request he vetos SB822.
The fact is that SB822 only strengthens consumer laws and only benefits consumers. It aim to stop the usual ISP shenanigans like network overselling, throttling traffic and mining customer traffic – see our article on Net Neutrality.
This is Frontier’s proposed letter to Governor Brown:
Dear Governor Brown:
Re: SB 822 — OPPOSE
As an employee of Frontier Communications, I write to respectfully request you veto Senate Bill 822 (Wiener).
Frontier Communications supports an open Internet where providers do not block, throttle, or interfere with customers’ ability to access and navigate the Internet. However, this overreaching bill threatens to establish new unnecessary and harmful regulation that will create significant new costs for consumers, hinder network investment and delay Frontier’s hard work to help close the Digital Divide in California.
I am proud to work at Frontier and help operate a network that is part of an incredibly successful Internet ecosystem that is the backbone of our economy and daily life. Frontier invests significant resources nationally and statewide to provide broadband, voice, and video services to our customers.
I oppose SB 822 because it will harm consumers and impose complex layers of costly regulation. This will deter investment and delay broadband deployment in California, especially in rural areas that still lack high-speed Internet access.
Moreover, SB 822 will essentially create “free” Internet for big users of bandwidth like Netflix and Google, but increase costs for consumers and decrease investment that creates good jobs.
California can lead the nation in many ways but should not impose costly and burdensome state regulation on an interstate service.
I respectfully ask you to veto this bill that is bad for all Californians.
What a load of codswallop!
Net Neutrality has nothing to do with this. Frontier’s position on this matter shows a fundamental lack of understanding on how the Internet really works.
In its most simplified form, the Internet has four distinct components:
End users pay Access Networks (like Yomura Fiber, Frontier, Comcast) for Internet access.
Access Networks, in turn, pay Transport Networks (like Zayo, Level 3, GTT, Telia) to transport data to/from Content Providers.
Content Providers pay Transport Networks to carry traffic to/from Access Networks.
(There are exceptions here – for example peering and Access Networks who are also Transport Networks but that’s outside the scope of this discussion, it only makes Frontier’s claims even more nonsensicle).
Analysis of the Claim
SB 822 will essentially create “free” Internet for big users of bandwidth like Netflix and Google, but increase costs for consumers and decrease investment that creates good jobs.
Almost all large Content Providers will try to connect their infrastructure directly to the Access Networks. Companies like Netflix go as far as placing servers in the Access Network’s datacentres just to reduce costs over the Transport Networks for them and the Access Providers.
Open Connect Appliances (OCAs) have the following characteristics:
Are provided free of charge to qualifying partners
Our appliances are provided free of charge for ISP partners who meet our basic requirements, but they are not for sale to other parties.
CDN’s like Akamai have similar programs.
Settlement-Free Peering is where two networks agree to interconnect and not charge each other for the traffic passed between them. This can either be done as a dedicated connection between the networks or at a peering exchange point. This is usually done between two networks exchanging similar traffic volumes or between Access Networks and Content Providers. The net benefit is that both networks save money by directly passing traffic rather than using a transport network.
Most large Content Providers also offer Settlement-Free Peering to Access Networks but a new tactic by Access Networks is to charge Content Providers for peering.
Companies like Yomura Fiber openly peer with all Content Providers. This is enshrined in our Net Neutrality Policy:
Content providers are permitted to peer with Yomura Fiber’s network at any public Internet exchange or with private interconnect without charge.
In essence, Settlement-Free Peering removes the Transport Network’s cost for the Access Network, reduces latency and should reduce the chances of congestion. Its a win for both the Access Network and the Content Provider.
So why would SB822 increase costs?
It won’t, it’s a scare tactic. Some ISPs don’t want Net Neutrality reinstated because it removes their ability to charge Content Providers for fast lanes or slow down competing services to entice customers to use theirs.
In the perfect world, Net Neutrality should be enforced by law – up until recently it was.
The true impact of repealing Net Neutrality isn’t understood by many. Net Neutrality is an umbrella term which addresses a variety of dubious tactics that companies in this industry carry out.
Common Net Neutrality Violations
Filtering or blocking of content
Throttling traffic / Traffic Prioritization
Content modification / manipulation
Data mining / Privacy Violation
Yomura Fiber was Net Neutral before the term was even coined. We started life in 1993 and we understood from the start that our customers should expect their services to be free from tampering or manipulation.
Yomura Fiber has the single clearest Net Neutrality policy in the industry and the only ISP to back that with a Transparency Report. This report shows in real-time any actions that have been carried out on the network to block or disrupt a site. Whilst Yomura won’t take unilateral action to block a website, there are times when courts will compel us to block or shutdown access to a site.
When you read the points above, many don’t sound that nefarious; but consider that each point in a context outside of Internet services. You’ll quickly realize that this behavior is outrageous.
Filtering and Blocking of content What would you do if you wanted to order a pizza and called Pizza Hut – but their phone lines were continually busy or the call quality was so bad you couldn’t hear the order-taker. You would call a competitor. Now imagine that a company could order a service from their telephone company to prioritize calls to them but congest their competitors – there would be outrage. In the telephone industry this is illegal but now that Net Neutrality is repealed there is nothing stopping ISPs from blocking or slowing down a website. So a company like Amazon’s website could be filtered or blocked because an ISP has been paid by another book seller to filter Amazon’s traffic.Traffic needs to be equal and without disruption by the ISP.
Throttling Traffic / Traffic Prioritization
Imagine the postal service prioritized first-class letters from one company but delayed first-class letters from another company. The expectation is that if you pay for first class mail, then you receive it. But if a company was penalized at the hands of a competitor, there wouldn’t be an equal or equitable postal service. Regulation prevents this tactic.For example, your ISP is not net neutral and maybe has their own streaming service. You are also a customer of Netflix and you find that your streaming is glitchy and continually buffering, yet your ISP’s streaming service is perfect. Maybe your ISP doesn’t want you downloading lots of content so they throttle bit-torrent traffic or maybe throttle file downloads over a certain size. Reducing traffic across the network reduces costs and avoids expensive upgrades whilst the customer is paying for a premium service.
If an ISP sells an unmetered service then it must be truly unmetered. The ISP can calculate upfront the peak usage and factor this into their financial considerations as well as their network design. If it’s not viable then they shouldn’t offer it.
Zero rated services
These are usually third party services that are provided for free. Some mobile operators may provide free access to Facebook or Twitter, these costs are paid by the third party services and provide a heavy commercial advantage over smaller services where customers have to pay to access.Yomura Fiber does not allow Zero Rated Services but also doesn’t believe that Zero Rated Services are as awful as the other Net Neutrality violations. In the instance of Zero Rated Services, so long as other services are not throttled or blocked, they actually bring the consumer value. They provide them access to common services at zero cost.
Content Modification / Manipulation
These are some of worst offences – this varies from injecting advertising, substituting adverts placed by the content creator with the ISPs adverts – denying the content creator their just revenue, intercepting search terms and directing users to sponsor’s landing pages and even intercepting speed tests and diverting them to local services to inflate perceived performance of the ISP’s service.Content providers rely on revenue from advertising. An unscrupulous ISP could easily swap out banners, affiliate links, add trackers or anything else they wish to a page. Equally they could remove negative commentary about their business or another company who requested they did so. In the small scale this is relatively harmless but if a national operator chose to make certain pages or links invisible, or even change the content on the page entirely – this could cause significant impact.
Data mining / Privacy Violation
Tracking individuals, their habits, their spending and even the types of content they read/watch is a highly saleable. Some ISPs share customer information with marketing companies allowing marketing firms to have a greater insight into the customer’s behavior. Some will argue that they have nothing to hide but it’s not about having anything to hide, it’s about expectation. Imagine mailing a letter from you to one of your relatives, you would expect that letter, in normal circumstances, to arrive without being opened and without the content/data points being stored for later sale. Just as if you walk through a mall, you don’t expect to be noted which shop windows you look in, how long you looked in them and which products you looked at.Outrageously, some ISPs offer services to let you opt-out of their tracking or data resale for an additional fee. We firmly believe that a customer should be entitled to privacy in their communications without paying a fee or making a request.
Yomura’s position on Net Neutrality
Yomura Fiber does not and will not slow down or prioritize traffic from any company or website.
Yomura Fiber does not and will not block traffic from any website unless directed by a court. At which point that website will be added to our Transparency Report.
Yomura Fiber does not and will not offer paid fast-lanes to content providers. All traffic is treated equally. Content providers are permitted to peer with Yomura Fiber’s network at any public Internet exchange or with private interconnect without charge.
Yomura Fiber does not and will not mine your traffic for information on your browsing habits or your activities for sale to third parties.
Yomura Fiber does not and will not modify the content passing through our network either on the inbound path to you or the outbound path from you.
Consumers need to choose companies that respect their rights to privacy, their rights to equal and equitable services and their rights to know that their data will not be modified in any way. There are many ISPs in the US who are truly Net Neutral but equally there are plenty that are nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing. These are Net Neutral for marketing reasons or to avoid losing lucrative contracts in states that are now wising up and making Net Neutrality part of their state and city requirements.
Should 25Mbps really be considered broadband in 2018?
Its 2018 – the FCC thinks the US national broadband standard should still be 25Mbps.
Whilst some areas can get 1Gbps and 10Gbps services with companies like Yomura Fiber or Google Fiber; most of the US is still battling with asymmetric slow services.
This has to change. It starts by operators investing into their networks to improve performance and service quality.
Some homes are still without any broadband services. Many are have so-called ‘Broadband’ services which don’t come close to the needs of the modern day.
Yomura Fiber has been investing since the start in its network. We make gigabit and multi-gigabit services to the home and office easy.
The National Broadband Standard
We agree with Commissioner Rosenworcel and want to see 100Mbps as the new national broadband standard so that every American home can enjoy the benefit of high-speed access.
DISSENTING STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER JESSICA ROSENWORCEL Re: Inquiry Concerning Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, GN Docket No. 18-238. I believe the future belongs to the connected. No matter who you are or where you live in this country, you need access to modern communications to have a fair shot at 21st century success. This is why the annual Broadband Deployment Report from the Federal Communications Commission is so important. However, I fear that today’s inquiry sets the stage for an unfortunate repeat of last year’s Broadband Deployment Report. That report found—despite clear evidence of 24 million Americans without high-speed service—that broadband deployment nationwide is both reasonable and timely. It ignored too many people in too many places struggling to access high-speed service and dealing with connectivity that falls short of what is necessary for full participation in the digital age. Moreover, this inquiry fundamentally errs by proposing to keep our national broadband standard at 25 Megabits per second. I believe this goal is insufficiently audacious. It is time to be bold and move the national broadband standard from 25 Megabits to 100 Megabits per second. When you factor in price, at this speed the United States is not even close to leading the world. That is not where we should be and if in the future we want to change this we need both a more powerful goal and a plan to reach it. Our failure to commit to that course here is disappointing. I regretfully dissent.
We’ve been rolling out our broadband across Atlanta for some months and as fast as we roll out one building another dozen request service.
Many of these buildings have been waiting for companies like Google Fiber to materialise with their long overdue service. Where we have network, we’ve been able to get those buildings online in less than 30 days. For buildings that are not as well located on our network it requires some additional work to bring network.
This is where Yomura Air comes into play. Our Air product is a wireless service which is fed from our fibre connected buildings to deliver 100Mbps to 1Gbps to a small receiver placed at the customer’s premises.
These receivers enable us to bring same-day and in some cases self-install Internet access to you. Most Air customers opt for our symmetric 100Mbps broadband which costs $49/month.
Our services are unmetered, there are no usage penalties or charges – you get unfiltered, unmetered Internet access.
Contact us and we’ll confirm whether we have coverage in your area.
You can be online same day – how many broadband providers can say that!
Despite the FCC making exclusive provider agreements illegal in 2008, many buildings continue this illegal practice.
It would be one thing if these exclusive providers were providing a modern service; but locking buildings down whilst providing a service that was laughable in the 1990’s is just insulting.
Exclusivity is plain simple bad business – the building owner often picks up a percentage of your monthly invoice as payment to keep out the competition but the tenant suffers.
When the carrier or ISP is kept on their toes, they invest into their infrastructure and treat the customers with the courtesy they deserve. Allowing a provider to obtain exclusive access to a multi-tenant building in many cases dooms those tenants to yesteryears technology and provider than can just abuse its customers because they have no-where else to go.
Some buildings take a different tactic by leveraging ridiculous fees to providers to enter their building. This is done to make it exorbitantly expensive for other providers to enter the building and so will fail to be approved by the provider.
There is no reason for your building owner or management company to charge for provider. They are there to serve its tenants, picking up commission payments to stifle competition is directly working against the tenants interests.
What can be done?
If you are in a building that prevents you from choosing the providers that come to your building then you can start by telling your building owner/landlord that you want choice. You can also involved your residents association and also file complaints with the FCC and FTC:
In the buildings we bring service, we don’t request exclusivity, you’re the customer – we want you to choose. We’ll keep your service fast and optimal whilst our customer service team will treat you with dignity and courtesy.
Yomura Fiber works on month-to-month contracts, if you’re not happy with our service you are free to cancel without being stung for a termination fee.
We view exclusive contracts as destructive to providers and customers. We’ll do our best to provide you with the best service on the market but there are going to be times when we are not the best fit for you. If you were forced to buy service from us and we could not satisfy your needs then that wouldn’t benefit you or us. By giving you choice, you have the right to move to a provider that meets your needs.
How can I get real broadband?
First if you are within a Yomura Fiber area, register your community with us – we’ll reach out to your building owner to see if we can help.
Second talk to your building owner/landlord try to get them see reason. Some will just see the paltry commission cheque they’ll get from you buying services from their exclusive provider and decide the few dollars from them is worth more than your satisfaction.
Third talk to your residents association and garner support to get this exclusive agreement recinded.
Fourth file complaints with the FCC and FTC.
If all else fails
If all else fails and you’re within a Yomura Fiber area then there are chances we can reach you by radio. We have a small window mounted receiver that just attaches to the inside of your window and will provide high-speed access (100-500Mbps).
Tennessee House Bill 1045 was torpedoed by Tennessee Senate Committee. This Bill proposed to allow counties and municipalities to make use of their infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet access to surrounding cities where only low performance services are available.
When network operators fail to bring modern services to an municipality then that area loses out to areas with high speed services. This Bill proposed to allow cities to address these failures by working amongst themselves for the benefit of their communities.
If network operators fail to address the needs of the community it serves, then the onus falls onto the community to find its own solutions. There are many examples of successful deployments like Greenlight Networks in NC. They are a city owned network that rolled out gigabit across the city of Wilson and Pinetops. They asked commercial operators to modernise existing services but when they were ignored. The city raised funding via bonds and took the matter into their own hands. Today these two rural cities have gigabit broadband, cable TV and phone service from a city owned company.
What is Yomura Fiber’s Position?
Despite being a commercial network operator, Yomura Fiber believes that community owned networks have a critical role. They fill the void where commercial operators have failed to deploy or have decided that the market is not lucrative enough to invest further funds.
We are actively supporting cities who are stuck with low speed, legacy networks and want a modern gigabit service in their city.
We are working with cities to deploy a fresh build or taking over existing infrastructure and modernising it. We can also partner to expand your network beyond your current boundaries with a public-private partnership.